Different types of breasts and nipples

By our reckoning combining breast types and nipples, there are at least 90 different 'types' of breasts, and this excludes the impact of breast size, nipple colour or nipple size. Some people may call them boobs or tits, (actually, Mum’s Lounge identified 300 names for them), but it is safe to say that breasts are generally a worldwide obsession.

Whether it’s social media controversy for showing a female nipple, breastfeeding a baby, looking fabulous in an outfit, or as an intimate part of your relationship, there is no way to ignore breasts. Everyone’s breasts are different and individual to them, so if yours don't look like your friends or a celebrity you admire, remember that breasts are unique to each person and there isn't an ideal breast or nipple type.

Read on to find out about the different types of breasts and nipples and what procedures can help you achieve the look you desire.


Different types of breast

Breast types may go by different names but, according to different sources, there are between 9 and 12 types of breast. At The Harley Medical Group, our experts have identified 10 different breast types.

1. Asymmetrical

Having some level of breast asymmetry is normal and nearly everyone has one breast that is slightly larger than the other. Most of the times, this is not something that needs correcting.

Asymmetrical breasts are of two noticeably different sizes with an uneven appearance noticeable with the naked eye. If someone is seeking to correct their asymmetrical breasts, a surgeon can assist by using two different implant sizes to create a more even appearance. However, it is to be noted that there may still be some variation in breast size.

asymmetrical breasts

2. Athletic

Whether they are dictated by your genes or your exercise regimen, 'athletic' breasts are wider and more muscular looking, having more muscle and less breast tissue. If someone is seeking to enlarge athletic breasts - for either a more balanced or enhanced appearance - a surgeon can absolutely assist. The implant will need to be placed the beneath the muscle, so the recovery time may be slightly longer.

athletic breasts

3. Bell shape

Bell-shaped breasts are shaped like a bell - narrower at the top and fuller at the bottom. Bell shape breasts are very common, especially after breastfeeding, when some fullness to the upper part of the breast may be lost.

If you are looking to correct bell-shaped breasts a surgeon may recommend a breast uplift and enlargement. This is not because your breasts are sagging, but because a breast augmentation alone may emphasise the bell-shape, giving a saggy appearance.

4. Slender

Slender breasts refer to the width across the ribcage, rather than the breast's protrusion (how far they stick out). Slender breasts are narrow and long, with nipples pointing downwards. They are thinner in shape, but can still be large i.e. not all slender breasts are small.

If you are looking to alter slender breasts, a surgeon may recommend a breast uplift with or without an enlargement. If a breast enlargement alone is performed, the implant will sit behind the downwards pointing nipple, giving a sagging appearance.

slender breasts

5. Tubular or Conical

Similar to slender breast, but not the same, tubular breasts or conical breasts are shaped like tubes or cones. They may appear oval, pointed or square shaped rather than round. Tubular breasts are often lacking in breast tissue both vertically and horizontally, with one breast noticeably larger than the other.

Tubular breasts tend to be smaller in appearance. While not rare, tubular breast are one of the least common types of breast, which is why some women can become conscious of their different appearance and seek to have them altered. To address conical breasts, a surgeon can insert a rounded implant and reduce the size of the areola.

6. East-West

This refers to the position of the nipples. East-West breast's nipples point outward (left and right), away from the centre of your body. If someone is seeking to alter their East-West breasts, a surgeon should advice that while they can enlarge or lift the breast, it may accentuate the location of the nipple rather than centralise them. The overall position of the nipple cannot be guaranteed following surgery.

east west breasts

7. Relaxed

Relaxed breasts are similar in appearance to slender breasts. Relaxed, or 'sagging breasts' have looser breast tissue making the breasts hang downwards in addition to lower placed nipples. If seeking to alter relaxed breasts a surgeon would recommend either a reduction or an uplift depending on the desired result.

Both a reduction and an uplift can be teamed with a breast enlargement. While it may seem odd that people would want a breast reduction and an enlargement, this combination is not all that uncommon - it's all about the shape of the breasts in the end result.

relaxed breasts

8. Round and close-set

Some people regard these as different breast types based on the location on the rib-cage (close-set sit closer to the centre of your chest, creating more distance between your underarm and your breast). And though there are always exceptions, both close-set and round breasts tend to be rounded in shape. This means they have an equal amount of fullness at the top and the bottom and produce a fuller cleavage look, which is why surgeons associate the two types.

Many people who have undergone breast enlargement surgery have more rounded results. As the most common breast shape, it is often the most sought-after result with breast enlargement surgery.

round breasts

9. Teardrop

The teardrop breast is a middle ground between the round and the bell shaped breasts. The teardrop breast is similar to the round breast towards the bottom, in that it has a fuller shape, but it has less tissue at the top of the breast. Although it is similar to the bell shape, the teardrop has more tissue at the top of the breast.

If you are looking to alter teardrop breasts, a surgeon may recommend an uplift and enlargement. This is not because your breasts are sagging, but because an enlargement alone may emphasise the fuller bottom of the breast, thus creating a sagging profile.

10. Side set

Admittedly, this is less of a breast shape and more a location on the rib-cage, but it does count as a type of breast. Side-set breasts can be any 'shape' but are further apart, with more space between them at the breast bone. If you are looking to make side-set breasts more centralised, a surgeon may recommend a breast augmentation to reduce the space between the breasts.


Different types of nipple

You may think that 'a nipple is a nipple' but we beg to differ. These little sources of unnecessary controversy vary greatly in colour, size, shape and key features. There are far too many variations to cover, our experts have identified 9 key nipple features.

  1. Flat: flat nipples remain at the level of the areolae, however they may become erect after stimulation.
  2. Inverted: inverted nipples retract inward instead of standing out like erect nipples.
  3. Everted: everted nipples are erect, standing up away from the areolae even without stimulation.
  4. Unilateral inverted: unilateral nipples are a combination, with one nipple being inverted and the other everted.
  5. Protruding: protruding nipples stand erect, further than everted nipples, even without stimulation.
  6. Supernumerary: this is another way of saying third nipple - which is actually very common.
  7. Bumpy: small bumps around the areolae, called Montgomery glands, are more noticeable though all nipples have them.
  8. Hairy: it’s totally normal to have hair growing around your nipples, and some people have more hair than others.
  9. Puffy: both the areola and the nipple make up a raised mound.

How do breasts form?

There are 5 key factors that influence the shape of your breasts.

  1. Genetics: perhaps not much of a surprise, but the first most influential factor in how breasts will develop is related to gene coding. Your genes influence your breast density,
  2. Weight: you may have noticed yourself but as weight increases and decreases, it can impact breast tissue and density - we often hear that someone lost weight and their breast tissue was the first thing to go.
  3. Exercise: your breasts might look firmer or perkier if you build up the muscles behind your breast tissue by strengthening your pecs. However continuously exercising your pecs may reduce your breast size and give them a more athletic appearance.
  4. Age: your breasts will naturally sag as you get older, so over time, your breasts may become longer and nipples start to face downward.
  5. Pregnancy and breastfeeding: your hormones during pregnancy and breastfeeding can make your breasts swell and change the way the fat and tissue are distributed throughout your breasts.

Key takeaways

  • Breasts and nipples come in many different shapes and sizes and they are unique to each individual.
  • Breast shape and nipples can be corrected or altered through different types of breast surgery procedures, ranging from breast reduction and augmentation, to breast uplift or a combination of these.
  • The shape of your breasts is influenced by a range of factors, including genetics, age and weight.

Please remember that while our articles are accurate at the time of writing, if you have any questions please come in and meet a member of our team for a no obligation consultation. If you have any concerns about your breast health, please seek the medical advice immediately.

Alternatively, check out our blog by Consultant Breast Surgeon Simon Smith about safe surgery and why going abroad may not be dangerous for you.

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Posted April 18, 2021
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